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SuperMouse's avatar

Parents, how much have you told/would you tell your grown children about your own childhood traumas?

Asked by SuperMouse (30785points) December 26th, 2010

It is fairly rare for anyone to make it through to adulthood without some kind of traumatic experience. Some of course are more horrific than others, but most of us seem to come out of our childhood with some lasting scars. My own kids are still too young to even consider sharing tales of my childhood beyond the very basic stuff but I have gotten to wondering about this. How much of your childhood challenges have you shared/would you share with your grown children? Do you think hearing your stories might benefit your children? Might it harm them?

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17 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

I think it doesn’t do any good until the children aren’t children any more. They need to be old enough to process what you are telling them. Even teenagers aren’t prepared to understand truly horrific incidents.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t think I’ll ever keep much from my children.

perspicacious's avatar

I have told my children about my childhood. Why not? My mother was and is still not willing to discuss hers.

marinelife's avatar

I would tell them after they were grown, probably if they asked.

cookieman's avatar

I live by one basic rule with my daughter: If she asks, I tell her the truth (at an age-appropriate level, of course).

I could also forsee a situation where my telling her about my childhood would help her handle something in her life.

augustlan's avatar

I’m with @cprevite. Tell the truth as it comes up, in an age-appropriate way. Even if it doesn’t come up, it can be helpful to talk to them about it, anyway.

My daughters (16, 15, and 13 years old) know that I was sexually abused, and by whom. (I didn’t give them a play-by-play of all the horrific details.) They know why I don’t speak to my mother. When they were younger than I would’ve liked, they inadvertently found out I’d had an abortion… but I would have told my oldest two about that by now if they hadn’t. I’m very, very honest with my kids. So far, I’ve seen no real drawbacks.

downtide's avatar

I haven’t told my daughter about my childhood but I would, if she asked. It would be different if she was having contact with any of the people involved, but she doesn’t.

BoBo1946's avatar

Some very good answers here. I would only “go there,” if I was asked. If asked, would tell him the truth.

Good question.

cak's avatar

@cprevite, I generally handle things the same way; except for obvious things, like medical issues. (however, those have been more adult related.)

I just don’t want to stop them from trying something because it went horribly wrong for me. Also, I will answer in A very age appropriate manner.

partyparty's avatar

I have told my adult daughter all about myself from A-Z.
I like to be an open book.
I think to know all is to understand all.

cookieman's avatar

@cak & @augustlan: The age-appropriate thing is key.

Between, “Nana does a lot of things that are hurtful. We don’t like that behavior.” AND “Nana is a pathological liar who manipulates people to her own ends. She’s toxic and we don’t want that in our lives.” – there’s a lot of steps over the years (in explaining it to a child who becomes a teen and so on).

geeky_mama's avatar

I agree very much with @augustlan and @cprevite—we aim for age-appropriate, contextual and very honest.
Our kids (one teen, one tween, two 1st graders) are all naturally inquisitive and ask for stories about when we were kids.

We share (both the good and the bad) as it comes up – and only in a way our kids can understand. For example, our kids cannot fathom physical punishment. This being the era of the “time out” as opposed to corporal punishment they are fascinated to hear about daddy getting a wooden spoon or mommy being paddled.

However, they do not get details about current adult/family issues that might color their opinions on topics we want them to form their own opinions on, or might “leak” back to someone else. (e.g. ‘Crazy things his Ex-wife does’ do not get discussed in front of the kids…because expecting a 6 year old not to repeat things to his friends or even the crazy Ex next time he sees her would be unrealistic.)

dubsrayboo's avatar

My abuser has changed his life around, but I still don’t trust him. When my daughters asked why they couldn’t be alone with him anywhere I had to be honest. I had to be as age appropriate as possible telling my girls why they couldn’t be with him alone. They took it well and follow that rule without question now. As hard as it is we sometimes have to give them some details.

Cruiser's avatar

I have shared a few of my childhood traumas with my kids as I feel it helps them understand that the violence and trauma of life is in fact real and survivable for some including their Daddy.

snowberry's avatar

I have a very large scar on my abdomen. My children were too young to explain the details about it, so when they asked, I told them that the doctor needed to fix something inside me and so he “put a zipper there”, and now the zipper’s gone, and the scar is what’s left. It was a great way to get around the “cutting Mommy with a knife” bit.

casheroo's avatar

Eh, I’ll tell them the truth…but only when they’re old enough.
If they ask if I did drugs, I’ll tell the truth. Doesn’t mean I have to tell them how much I did, but yes I tried them. I know a little of my parents past, but I don’t need every single detail. I don’t see why’d they’d ever want to know.

casheroo's avatar

@snowberry Oh I had a conversation like that with my son. He asked where his baby brother came from, and of course my husband found it funny to tell him I pooped him out…so he thinks I pooped him out. But, my second was a csection and I do have a scar…I told my son that I pushed him out, but his brother had to be taken out. He does remember “Mommy’s boo-boo” so he wouldn’t jump on me, but that’s really the extent of it!

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